February 1st , 2023
Respect The Opposition
Nehemiah - “They all made plans to come and fight against Jerusalem and throw us into confusion. But we prayed to our God and guarded the city day and night to protect ourselves.” (Nehemiah 4:8-9)
Even though Nehemiah didn’t accept the ridicule of his opposition, he still respected the threats and took the necessary precautions. We learn in verse 9 above that Nehemiah and the people prayed and also posted guards around the city for protection. They did both the prayerful thing and the practical thing. It’s a good thing at night to lay in bed and pray, “Lord, protect me from burglars.” However, the smart thing is to also get up and lock the doors of your house. Oliver Cromwell once said, “Trust God and keep your powder dry.”
Someone once said that “Petition without precaution is presumption.” Rely on God when you’re facing opposition, but also respect the opposition. The stronger the opposition, the stronger your response should be. In verse 9 above, Nehemiah didn’t say, “I prayed.” Instead, he said, “We prayed.” Up until this time, Nehemiah had been the one doing much of the praying. Now all of the people are praying. Where did they get the idea to pray? By watching Nehemiah, their leader.
Leaders lead by showing, not simply by telling. When we look back at Nehemiah 1-4, we see that Nehemiah has been praying constantly. The people must have noticed this and finally started to realize that prayer must change things. So, they start praying as well. If you're a Christian and you desire for others to follow your lead in whatever you are doing, start praying. Nehemiah's constant prayer life impacted the people of Jerusalem causing them to pray as well. Their timing was impeccable because they were being opposed corporately and corporate opposition requires a corporate response.
The people of God were poised and ready for the opposition. They had been praying and their guard was posted. In fact, Nehemiah set up an alarm system with guards around the clock. He knew his opposition and he was ready to face them. Many people have lost to their opponents because they've underestimated the opposition. When we are faced with opposition, we should not simply pray. We should be aware. We should know our opposition and not be ignorant about what's happening. In the Bible one phrase that is used time and again is "Watch and pray.” Jesus said it. Paul said it. John said it. Peter said it. (Matthew 26:41, Colossians 4:2, 1 Peter 5:8) “Watch” is the human part -- post a guard. “Pray” is the divine part -trust God. “Watch” means lock the door; “Pray” means "God, I'm trusting You." Watch and Pray. We should do both, meaning we rely on God and respect the opposition.
FOLLOW UP ACTIVITY
Have you been watching and praying regarding your potential opposition? Have you been relying on God while respecting the opposition? Make a list of the steps you need to take in both areas. If you’re leading your family through this devotion, take time to dialogue with them about the opposition that your family may be facing. Discuss how you can rely on God and respect the opposition as a family, then pray together.
PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, help me to always watch and pray. Help me to always rely on You and respect the opposition.